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  • Writer's pictureDonna Hechler Porter

Another piece of the Thomas Rock puzzle . . .

Every now and then I just get lucky. Plain lucky.

Info dumps in my lap – typically something I have been looking for F-O-R-E-V-E-R. Without really looking it is just suddenly – there.

Such happened about two weeks ago.

One of my disappointments has been never finding a death date for Thomas Rock. Rock, it will be remembered, was the husband of Tranquilla McQueen, who was the second daughter and child of Milton McQueen and Susan Simmons. He was a schoolteacher residing in Milton’s house in the 1850 Tyler County, Texas, census. He went on to become one of Woodville’s first attorneys and subsequently married Tranquilla about 1853. He was deeply embroiled in McQueen and Barclay affairs for years. He served in the Confederate forces, first as a private and then later as an ordnance sergeant. He was captured at the Arkansas Post and became a prisoner of war. Later, after his release and reentry into the Confederate forces, he suffered an injury to his arm that resulted in paralysis and eventually forced him to retire form the service before the war was over.

After the war, like everyone else, he entered into difficult times and eventually moved his law practice and family to Coryell County, Texas, and later neighboring Bosque County, Texas. In 1883 he, sons James and John, are found in the Bosque County, Texas, census. Probably that same year, or in late 1882, he argued before the Supreme Court of Texas in the case Sidney Picher vs. A. L. Kirk et al for the appellant.

The next year, however, the 1884 Bosque County tax list shows a T. M. Rock, a Jas. P. Rock, and a Mrs. T. Rock. (In prior records, Thomas Rock, husband of Tranquilla, is also listed as Thomas or T, while their son Thomas is found as Thomas M. or T. M. Rock.) The 1885 and 1886 Bosque County tax lists show no Rocks at all. I searched probate records in the area and came up dry on a death date for Thomas.

Until now.

Quite by accident, while I was actually looking for some Sheffield’s on, I decided to do a random search on Thomas Rock.

And . . . there it was.

A notice of his death in The Galveston Daily News, dated Sunday, 12 August 1883, and reported from out of Meridian, in Bosque County, on the day before, 11 August. The information about Thomas is at the bottom of the section.

Newspaper clipping from The Galveston Daily News, Sunday, August 12, 1883

Thomas, in fact, worked with Pickett on Milton’s behalf after Robert Fulghum sued Sarah McKenzie Barclay McQueen, Milton’s second wife, for slander when she spoke about rumors concerning his daughter Narcissa Jane Fulghum being an unwed mother. This, of course, was scandalous in the late to early 1860s. Such rumors could mar a young girl’s reputation and keep her from finding a suitable match for a husband. It was generally believed that Fulghum sued Sarah because, while she was not the only one who had spoken about Narcissa, she had money in her own right from her previous marriage to Robert Barclay, Milton's nephew, and she was not married to Milton. And Milton, of course, was wealthy in his own right.

As for Narcissa, she later married Capt. John Thomas "Jack" Bean, Milton's nephew, after the war.

But – back to Thomas.

The newspaper, as I stated earlier, is dated the 12th of August and is put out on Sunday, and the report was made from out of Meridian the day before on the 11th on Saturday. Thomas, therefore, died the previous Thursday on 9 August 1883.

Interestingly enough, a verdict in the case he argued before the Texas Supreme Court did not come in until two months after his death – on 13 October 1883. The verdict from the lower court was reversed, meaning Thomas’ appeal was successful and he won the case for his client.

When Tranquilla passed away twelve years later in 1895, she was buried in the Weaver Chapel Cemetery in Bosque County. There is a marker over her grave and inscribed on the marker is her name and that she was “the wife of Thomas Rock.”

I have, however, been unable to locate a grave marker for Thomas.

The hunt is still on for that . . .

Tombstone of Tranquilla McQueen Rock, wife of Thomas Rock,

in Weaver Chapel Cemetery, Bosque County, Texas.

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